Throughout the 2018 NASCAR season, Motorsport.com will spotlight the winning spotter from various Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck series races.
Former NASCAR driver Andy Houston has worked as Austin Dillon’s spotter since he began competing in NASCAR national series competition in 2010 and he helped lead the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet to win the Daytona 500 last week.
The Hickory, N.C. native made 150 starts combined in the NASCAR national series enjoying his most success in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series making 121 starts over eight seasons with three wins. The former track champion at historic Hickory Motor Speedway moved into the spotter’s role with Dillon in 2010 and helped him win the 2011 NCWTS championship and the 2013 NASCAR Xfinity Series crown.
Houston is the son of legendary NASCAR Busch Series competitor Tommy Houston and brother of former NASCAR driver Marty Houston and former crew chief Scott Houston.
What was last weekend like for you and Austin Dillon during the Daytona 500?
Early in the race Austin wasn’t too concerned with running up front to gain stage points. I remember him telling (crew chief) Justin Alexander during the race that they had all year to get stage points and that he wanted to focus on going after the win.
How long have you been spotting for Dillon and do you spot for any other drivers in addition to Austin on Sundays.
I started spotting for Austin in 2010 right when he began competing in the NCWTS. We tell each other the truth and can be honest with one another and our communication has always seemed to work between each of us. I also started spotting last year for Stewart Friesen in the truck series and I also spot for the No. 3 car when it races in the Xfinity Series. This year we’ll have Austin, Ty (Dillon), Shane Lee, Jeb Burton and Brendan Gaughan in the car throughout the season.
What’s the most challenging aspect about your job?
Just being able to help your driver get through a tough race like last week with all of the accidents on track and trying to look ahead and help keep them out of incidents.
How do you try and help your driver during the race to help keep them calm when they need it?
Sometimes we might joke back and forth but not a lot. We stay pretty focused during the race and I just try and be a calming voice to the drivers when they need it. He usually stays pretty calm during a race but when there are times when I try and just help when I think he needs it.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job as a spotter?
I feel being the spotter is as close as you can get to competing without driving the race car. The most rewarding part is being able to talk your driver through a crash that is pretty unavoidable and helping save the race car and being successful on the track. Winning is obviously the sweetest.
Do you feel being a former driver helps you as a spotter?
I do. I feel I can help Austin and also Justin (Alexander) as he might ask a question during the race of what I can see (developing on the track) among our cars and others competing in the race. I feel I can give the team an honest overview sometimes of things going on during the race that might help us out later in the race.